Alice in Library Wonderland

Posted by on in Graduate Trainees
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 1439
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print

Having heard from Carley, one of last year’s Graduate Trainees, about her experience and where it has led her, we are proud to introduce this year’s intake of new Graduate Trainees. We’ll be following them on the blog and charting their progress from bewildered London Library novices to all-knowing LL experts over the coming months.


First up, we have Alice, who is slowly finding her way through the labyrinth of stacks and marvelling at the Library’s many wonders.


Pinch me, I must be dreaming…


A library as perfectly peculiar as this is clearly a figment of the imagination, perhaps a result of one too many afternoon teas in front of the fire. It certainly epitomises the romantic ideal: thousands of volumes stacked to the horizons; the scent of aging paper, leather and, in some parts, bacon; whimsical shelf-marks (my favourite thus far is R. Serpent Worship); Brobdingnagian bindings and miniatures fit for a mouse… it simply cannot be real.

The London Library flouts the laws of time and space, drawing in the willing reader (or graduate trainee!) and depositing her, disorientated, dizzy, deep in the midst of H. Girondists. (This year will be filled with learning, and not just library lore. Note to self: research what a “Girondist” actually is.) Truly, the only way to begin to comprehend these idiosyncrasies is to get thoroughly lost in the labyrinth, a task in which all three of us have now achieved distinction. Round each new corner I keep half-expecting to encounter the skeletal, cobwebbed remains of previous trainees or perhaps Marley’s ghost. Alas, no Yorick, merely an owl, roosting in Literature. Still, far more pleasant than the spectres that the mind conjures up- perhaps it isn’t a dream after all.


Reality results in knowledge of the workings of the library; believe it or not, “Banging and Stamping” does occur here, though it isn’t as boisterous as the title suggests. (One blissful contrast between here and the public library from which I came.) In actuality, it comprises of ensuring each new book is fitted with a copy of The Rules and a date label, an essential task, but not the most enthralling.  However, it is trickier than it sounds: aligning the papers, attempting to position them true, the delicate balance of water on the back of the gummed sheets- should you find any crinkled, please forgive me.  There are an awful lot of skills to perfect and we shall keep you updated throughout our pilgrims’ progress.


If you’re intrigued by the shelf-marks Alice has referred to – R. Serpent Worship and H. Girondists – you can see a full list of the Library’s unique shelf-marks on our website


Coming soon: contributions from Alice’s fellow Graduate Trainees Rosie and Xavier.